It looks like orcas killed three great white sharks in South Africa just to eat their livers

Just offal. Picture: Getty Images

Orcas are not just the best killing machine in the ocean, they’re incredibly callous.

A cage dive business in South Africa recently found a couple of dead great white sharks washed up on a beach near the town of Gansbaai which showed the hallmarks of being killed by orcas.

That in itself is news for marine biologists. Alison Kock from ‎South African National Parks told Gizmodo it would be the “first confirmed account of an orca predation on a white shark from South Africa”.

There’s been the odd rare occasions when orcas have been seen hunting great whites in California, and beaked whales off the southern tip of Western Australia.

And who can forget this incredible shot taken in 2015 in New Zealand of an orcas threatening a sevengill shark in a hunt which saw a pod of orcs hassle, stun, then kill five of their prey:

The impressive – or sad, depends on your feeling towards sharks – part of the discovery in South Africa was the size of the great whites. One measured close to five metres long:

Picture: Marine Dynamics/Dyer Island Conservation Trust

And then this is where it gets fascinating, and a little creepy:

Picture: Marine Dynamics/Dyer Island Conservation Trust

The liver had been removed, on all three carcasses. Take a moment to think about what kind of skill that would take.

Towner told Gizmodo that shark liver contained the nutrient squalene, and that kind of surgery is what alerted them to the fact it was most likely to be killer whales doing the damage.

“It seems likely that orcas are again the cause of death but we will confirm after the autopsy,” Towner wrote on the Marine Dynamics blog.

“Obviously this is a very sad time for us all, nature can be so cruel and the dexterity these enormous animals are capable of is mind blowing, almost surgical precision as they remove the squalene rich liver of the white sharks and dump their carcass.”

You can read more and see more pictures of the dead sharks on the Marine Dynamics blog here.

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